Homelessness is one of the problems United Way Central Vancouver Island hopes to tackle as it embarks on its 2017 fundraising campaign.
The non-profit organization officially kicked off the effort Friday and according to Signy Madden, central Island United Way executive director, people are struggling with housing and poverty issues and the need has been identified. It is looking to fund four to five additional programs, just in Nanaimo, including the rent support program.
“If we have a cold winter again, the big piece is about housing loss prevention,” said Madden. “People can lose their home and become homeless because they can’t afford to pay the rent one month, or pay their utilities and so we found it really effective last year, didn’t take a ton of money, but just to give people one or two months’ support to get them through whatever the financial crisis was and then suddenly, we’re not dealing with them in the shelters, the food programs.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island is another organization that will benefit from the United Way. Madden said it is about prevention and beneficial to the children, as they have someone who is engaged and with whom to do things.
“We watch them,” said Madden. “Those kids, they do well. They stay in school, that’s the big one, and then they go off to university or to the trades programs. It’s just about one person caring about them and connecting outside the family. So it’s a prevention thing and such a low-cost program.”
More than $1.2 million was raised last year.
The campaign runs through December and Madden said anything raised in the central Island stays in the area.
Donations can be made online at www.uwcnvi.ca or at the Nanaimo office at 9-327 Prideaux St.